Cree language shines down on Saskatoon's Broadway Avenue with new public art piece
The temporary art installation 'reflects the sacred and ritualistic space of Treaty 6'
A new temporary public art installation shining down on Saskatoon's Broadway Avenue aims to capture the essence of reconciliation, its creators say.
It's a red urban light sculpture called River and Sky, or nipiy mîna sîpiy in Cree.
"It looks unique because it's the language of the people of this land," said performance artist Joseph Naytowhow, a member of Sturgeon Lake First Nation and one of the co-creators of the artwork.
He created the light sculpture along with English artist Tony Stallard and Cree writer Kenneth T. Williams.
Placed high up on the north-facing wall of the Saskatchewan Craft Council, it shows the words "river and sky" spelled out in Cree syllabics.
It's meant to be a "poetic site-specific artwork that reflects the sacred and ritualistic space of Treaty 6," according to a media release about the art project from the City of Saskatoon.
"Settlers need to embrace this relationship that we have in a positive way, a loving way, a kind way, and [a] caring, respectful way," said Naytowhow.
Symbol of treaty and reconciliation
To see the Cree symbols captured in modern neon, high above a busy city street brings both joy and sadness to the performance artist's heart.
"The thing that doesn't make me feel great is that I can't actually read syllabics," he said.
In that sense, the sculpture also offers a reminder that preserving Indigenous language and culture is vital as Canada moves toward reconciliation, he said.
With files from Saskatoon Morning